The Sun is personified in many mythologies. The Greeks called it Helios. The Sun's name comes from the Romans who called it Sol.

This is the symbol for the Sun:

 


All nine of our planets orbit the Sun. Depending on the distance, some planets circle the Sun faster than others. We live in a heliocentric system. This means that our solar system is centered around the Sun.


The Sun's surface, called the photosphere, is at a temperature of about 5800 K. There are some regions that are much "cooler." These cool regions are called "sunspots." Sunspots are only about 3800 K in temperature - this is why they look darker than the rest of the Sun.




Sunspots can be as large as 50,000 km across! Scientists are still trying to explain what causes sunspots.

 

Here is a picture of a solar eclipse. What happens during a solar eclipse? The Moon passes directly between the Earth and Sun. When this happens, light from the Sun is blocked off for a short time. A solar eclipse can cause complete darkness - during the daytime!

 

During an evening, check outside for a full moon. If you see a full moon, take a quarter and go outside. Hold your quarter up (between your thumb and finger) towards the moon and close one eye. By moving your arm to and from your nose, try to "cover up" the moon with your quarter. Even though the quarter is much smaller than the moon, you can succeed in covering it up! This is similar to how the Moon covers up the Sun. The Moon is much smaller than the Sun, but the Moon can cover up the Sun given at the right distance and angle.

A huge eruptive prominence (a fiery loop of gas) leaving the sun.
   
An X-ray photo of the Sun - lots of violent eruptions!
   
A super close-up of a solar flare - WOW!
   
Sunpots - up close and personal
   
The Sun's fiery and eruptive surface
   
A photo of a solar eclipse showing explosive prominences!
   
A nice diagram of the Sun's "anatomy"
   
 
Shows a solar eclipse which happened in November, 1994 (QuickTime format)
   
The November, 1994 solar eclipse (MPEG format)
   
A video clip from Our Star the Sun, describing the Sun's past (AVI format)
   
A video clip from Our Star the Sun, describing the Sun (AVI format)
   
A corona animation showing solar prominences (AVI format)